Girl Scouts USA appoints first Black CEO

Education

For years, Girl Scouts USA has been working to be culturally inclusive so as to change a history of racial inequality in its ranks, and this month the organization appointed a new CEO to lead it in the right direction, Judith Batty.

CNN reports that Batty is the first African American to take the reins of GSUSA as CEO.

Batty is a former ExxonMobil lawyer and former Girl Scout. She started off in the organization as a Brownie with her local Nassau County Council in New York and continued scouting over the years, before later going on to serve two terms on the National Board.

Prior to GSUSA, Batty served as both a corporate executive and senior legal counsel for ExxonMobil, where she was the first woman and first Black General Counsel of the ExxonMobil affiliate in Japan.

Batty’s appointment marks a major change for GSUSA, as when it first opened in 1912, girls of color were not allowed to participate, especially not Black girls.

The first African-American girl members were a part of the third US troop formed in 1913 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, predating the first officially recognized all-African-American Girl Scout troop in 1917, according to the GSUSA official blog.

Although the third US troop in 1913 included African-American girls, troops remained largely segregated by race in the South for decades.

The desegregation of the Girl Scouts began in the 1950s, intensified by national efforts onset by the Civil Rights movement throughout the United States.

As time went on, and race-relations in the U.S. slowly changed, an increasing number of notable women of color like Venus and Serena Williams and Mariah Carey were recognized as former Girl Scouts in their youth.

Batty — who’s mother was also a Girl Scout — says her top priority as interim CEO is “to ensure a smooth transition.” Since taking the helm on Monday, Batty has been carrying out her plan of “working with, learning from, and listening to all of the members” of the GSUSA Movement. 

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